It should be obvious by now that I’m really far behind the literary trends. This book was all over Instagram ages ago but I just didn’t think it was the book for me. It’s just not my typical genre. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with romance but it’s just not my favourite. Still, when I found a copy of this book in a charity shop a while back, I had to buy it. Although, it wasn’t until the audiobook came up to borrow at the library that I finally went to read it. It seemed like the perfect book to listen to at work when it was super hot.
I really do understand why people are such a fan of this book. The story is lovely and the characters are both lovely. It’s one of those feel-good books in the same realm as Eleanor Oliphant where the cuteness disguises the fact that you’re dealing with something more profound. As the story goes on, you slowly start to realise that you’re dealing with serious issues about mental health and relationships. In my opinion, it doesn’t quite have quite the same appeal as Gail Honeyman’s novel but I enjoyed reading it.
A lot of that enjoyment came from the early stages of the book as it sets up its premise. I think the idea behind this book is wonderful. Two people share a flat and a bed but they’ve never met. One inhabits the flat during the day and the other at night. It’s weird but it works. It’s also cute. Yes, we all know where it will end up but it’s undeniably adorable. The opening leaves a lot of room for the getting to know you moments. Although, the pair don’t communicate directly. I love the chapters that consisted of their notes to each other.
The rest of the book splits between the dual perspectives of both Tiffy and Leon. Both have to deal with work and relationship stresses of their own. Leon is a hospice nurse with a hectic schedule that his girlfriend doesn’t understand. Tiffy works in publishing and is trying to get over her long-term boyfriend. The pair start to find solace in each other and it’s lovely to see their bond grow. As characters, they do have some depth but I did find them a bit one-dimensional. Especially Tiffy who does occasionally become the stereotypical quirky bookish girl. Leon has a bit more edge to him but that mostly comes in the form of his incarcerated brother.
As the book goes on, the topics get a bit more difficult as we learn more about Tiffy’s previous relationship. It’s all very good stuff but it just comes a bit too late. We spend so long on the set-up that all of the heavy lifting is just a bit rushed. I was a bit disappointed and felt that it deserved a bit more attention. It’s as if the book was trying to do too much. It wanted to be a romance but felt it needed a bit more to make it stand out. I’m all for getting a bit deep, but I wish it had just stuck to the post-it notes.
Overall, I enjoyed The Flatshare more than I expected to but it still lacked something to really keep me engaged. I think it helped that I listened to the audiobook. I think the narrators added a lot. This was certainly a sweet book and I didn’t hate it. I just can’t say that I’m in a rush to read any more of Beth O’Leary’s books in a hurry. I will one day, I’m sure, but not yet.
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